I originally entered the McDonough School of Business thinking I could find a way into architecture from an administrative or business development angle. I had no art portfolio ready to apply to an architecture school. The business school lacks an architecture or engineering program, so it’s no surprise that my spontaneous architecture goals were short-lived and soon vanished as I got caught up in the intensity of the MSB. I often wondered why I was in the business school. I struggled to find a way to fit my creative side into my new college life. The creative dominance over my personality, however, wouldn’t be realized until the end of my sophomore year.
During my first year, all I could do was try to stay afloat while flailing against the business core classes of “Financial Accounting” and “Computational Business Modeling.” I actively avoided thinking about what I would do for a major or career, knowing I wasn’t expected to declare a major until sophomore spring.
I quickly realized I couldn’t allow myself to get dragged down by the difficulty I was having in the business school with feeling ridiculously underprepared and less capable than others. I dove into researching a minor in art history or studio art, attempting to incorporate my creative tendencies into a viable career. However, I was still approaching the decision too strategically. I thought mostly about which would be more advantageous to the marketing major I was planning to declare.
I originally settled on art history, taking a class to get started on the minor. I dismissed studio art after being traumatized by the sculpture class I took freshman fall, which I thought would be more ceramics, and less cardboard and hot glue guns. Although the art history class still stands as one of my favorite classes, it was vastly overshadowed by the oil painting class I took the following semester in a last effort to explore the studio art minor. Despite the fact that I had never oil painted before, by the end of the semester, I fell in love, not only with painting, but with art all over again.
Studio time was not just time spent completing an assignment. It was a reprieve from social drama, family headaches and especially the business school. I would spend double the amount of time on oil painting than I spent on any other class. I should have been spending double the amount of time on managerial accounting, since I was struggling to keep up, but I would find myself perpetually in the studio, alone with my headphones in and paint covering my fingers and an old T-shirt. I would stay until I felt I was at a good enough place to let the brush rest, which meant that I quickly familiarized myself with the orange glow of the streetlamps against the deep navy of the 4 a.m. sky. I wouldn’t feel the exhaustion until my head hit my pillow, and suddenly I was oversleeping accounting class.
As I prepare myself to begin pre-registration for my junior spring, I realize how much I love what I do. For the first time, I’m excited to share my work with friends and others when I used to keep my work intensely private. My art has always been my escape. It’s an expression of the vulnerabilities I feel but push through, the only expression of self-imposed fears and insecurities that I prioritized below other responsibilities. As a junior, I’m close to completing my marketing major and discovering new ways to incorporate creativity and formulate a viable career I can be passionate about. The more my love for art and excitement for business and marketing converge, the more open and happier I am.
This past year, others have begun to discover and like my art and have wanted to recognize it. Since then, other opportunities have found me as well. My art is usually a quiet and personal thing, so nothing is more rewarding than to have it resonate with others. What once was deeply intimate and hidden is now a more open expression, which is also a reflection of how far I have come personally.
Alison Wong is a junior in the McDonough School of Business. LIFE IN ART is a rotating column, appearing every other Friday.
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